KGUSS T5Pro Tube DAC/Preamp Review

KGUSS T5Pro featured review

In today’s review, I’m checking out the KGUSS T5Pro Tube DAC/Preamp and headphone amplifier. The T5Pro features an ESS9018K2M DAC chip, dual 6N3 tubes and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s priced at $119.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by HiFi College for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.

KGUSS T5Pro Tube DAC/Preamp Review
Verdict
The KGUSS T5Pro tube DAC and preamp has good sound, features, and is fantastic value for the money.
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Pros
Natural euphonic presentation
Low noise floor
Bass and treble tone controls
LDAC support
Cons
Not as insightful as some solid-state preamps
Chassis gets a bit warm
4.6
Our Score
WHERE TO BUY

KGUSS T5Pro

Table of Contents
KGUSS T5Pro design

Design

On the exterior, we’ve got an anodized aluminium chassis with a matte black finish. The two 6N3 tubes sticking out of the top catch your attention right away. On the front panel are (from left to right): the power/input select button, a 6.35mm headphone jack, the volume knob plus the bass and treble tone control knobs.

Switching around to the rear I/O panel we find the Bluetooth antenna mount, USB, optical and auxiliary inputs plus the subwoofer and RCA outputs. The subwoofer output is interesting and I’m pleased to see 2.1 output supported by this device.

The build quality looks and feels good. There’s a series of LED indicators on the front panel that show the currently selected input. Unfortunately, the bass and treble tone knobs are not detented so you have to guess where the neutral point is.

Internally, there’s an ESS9018K2M DAC chip handling the decoding and a QCC5125 in charge of the Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with LDAC support. The sample rate supported is listed as 24bit/192kHz. For amplification, the T5Pro is equipped with Texas Instruments OPA1612 op-amps.

The output power for the headphone jack is 300mW@32Ω which is enough for all IEMs and also capable of driving a wide variety of headphones (it can easily drive my Sennheiser HD650 to ear-piercing levels).

One other cool feature of this unit is it auto-switches between the headphone output and line output. As soon as you plug in some headphones, you can hear a relay click and the output switches from the Line out to the headphone jack and vice versa when you unplug the headphones. Pretty cool!

T5Pro rear I/O panel

Sound

Gear used for testing includes the FiiO JT1, Sennheiser HD650 and TRN Azure Dragon. It’s worth noting that the KGUSS T5Pro is a preamp so it can also be paired with power amplifiers and active monitors and a subwoofer. I tested the Bluetooth with my Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra using LDAC. The connection worked flawlessly and the audio quality was excellent.

So, how about the sound? Well, I can add the T5Pro to the list of budget DAC/Amps that have impressed me. It gives you some of that tubey goodness, sprinkled with rich harmonics and a pleasing musicality.

T5Pro showcases good spatial expression and a sense of realism. The sound is enhanced by smooth edges and depth perception, particularly in the midrange. It has a slightly more relaxed presentation than a solid-state amp and a natural tone.

Speaking of tone, the bass and treble tone controls work really well. They’re not overdone but the changes are significant. Imagine my surprise when I turned up the treble dial and heard a subtle high-hat in the back of the mix that wasn’t present before (the HD650 isn’t exactly known for its micro-detail retrieval). A subtle tweak of the treble also expands the soundstage dimensions and I had a lot of fun experimenting with the sound.

Another thing that impressed me was the black background. I didn’t hear any buzzing or hissing, even when I paired the device with sensitive IEMs. Imaging and layering are good although not as precise as some solid-state amps in this price range but the euphonic quality of the sound more than makes up for that.

Rear panel angle

Verdict

The KGUSS T5Pro is a fine product that delivers big audio and features at a small price. It’s a well-rounded device that is perfect for a starter or secondary HiFi system. Good sound, plenty of power, tone controls, tube warmth and even LDAC Bluetooth. If you’re looking for an affordable tube DAC/preamp this one is really hard to pass up. Recommended!

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